Hosea 10:1-15, Hebrews 12:5-11
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
– Hosea 10:12
We love to hear the gospel. But there are some passages of Scripture that are really hard to read, because they don’t tell us pleasant things. This passage tell us about sin, and about its consequences.
No one wants to read about these things. I really like it better when I imagine Jesus patting me on the shoulder, saying “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Instead of patting me on the back, this passage kicks me in the pants.
This is incredibly uncomfortable, even disturbing stuff.
Why would God say this to us? Why can’t we just skip over the nasty parts and hear about something nice instead?
The truth is, we cannot really understand the Gospel without this very real and difficult realization of sin. The Gospel is not a “skip over the difficult stuff” message. It is rather, an answer to an ugly and deep-rooted problem in our own hearts. Our hearts are not naturally inclined to seek the Lord and do what is right.
We may like to claim a kind of made-up righteousness of our own, but those are ‘mere words’ and ‘empty oaths.’
In truth, apart from God’s bountiful grace, we are just like Israel.
The pattern of our lives betrays our belief that ‘we do not need the Lord.’ That is frightening, because Hosea tells us where all this leads: shame, judgment, and the tumult of war.
This passage is indeed frightening, but it is not a cheap scare tactic. It is truth. We ourselves bring judgment on ourselves when we dismiss God and his decrees.
But even in this passage on the blackness of sin, God shines a light for us. When God calls us to ‘sow righteousness,’ He is not simply commanding us. He is also beckoning to us. God is throwing a rope into the well to pull us out of the darkness and muck of our sin.
Hosea is a book about God’s wooing of an undeserving people, and here again we see that same theme.
God calls us to seek Him because He desires good for us, and not destruction. He longs for our wandering hearts to return to Him, and receive His cleansing grace.
From the deep pit of our own destruction and despair, we hear a steady, loving voice calling:
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Come to me, all ye that are weak and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
(Hosea 10:12, Matthew 11:28)